Researchers halted a study in Africa testing whether a daily antiretroviral pill can prevent women from becoming infected with the AIDS virus. So far, women taking the pill are just as likely as those taking the placebo to become infected. Of the 1,900 women taking the pill and placebo, 28 in both groups became infected. Researchers are still hopeful about obtaining better results in future studies, however. The drug, called Truvada, was found to protect gay men in a study that was published in November. One question being asked is whether there was a difference in how often the women actually took the pills; some women taking Truvada complained of side effects. There is also the question of how much Truvada infused the walls of the vagina, where the initial infection takes place. Some argue that vaginal gels are more effective at getting antirectoviral drugs into vaginal walls.
I apologize if this story has already been posted (I checked the website but so much stuff gets posted that it’s hard to keep up). This story talks about how surrogacy has been legal in India since 2002, and how poor women become surrogate mothers to try to supplement their husband’s income. Hundreds of women are now doing this, which is problematic for as of yet there are no laws or government oversight on surrogacy. India is ideal for surrogacy because of its low costs, and modern assisted reproductive techniques.
There is debate, however, about how much surrogacy really helps the women. They may be treated poorly by the clinics; an example provided is coercion into repeated insemination. Surrogate mothers may also experience social ramifications, as they may be ostracized by their communities. Additionally, India already has one of the worst maternal mortality rates. Currently, the Indian Counsel of Medical Research has drafted a bill to govern surrogacy, but it will take some time to become law.
I found a fun podcast on iTunes called The History Chicks. It’s a series run by two women discussing various female historical figures, and from what I gathered so far it seems to try to portray them in a more objective light (or at least to shed some light on them). There’s only been one podcast so far, and it is about Marie Antionette. If you can’t access podcasts you can go to their website: http://thehistorychicks.com and listen to the discussions there.
It’s not really about women’s health or human rights, but I thought it was interesting.